Evangel handles out-of-state opponent easily

Published 10:00 pm Friday, October 23, 2015

Brad Baggett gets past a Memphis Nighthawk defender in the first quarter of Evangel's 44-6 win at home on Oct. 23. (Reporter Photo / Baker Ellis)

Brad Baggett gets past a Memphis Nighthawk defender in the first quarter of Evangel’s 44-6 win at home on Oct. 23. (Reporter Photo / Baker Ellis)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

MONTEVALLO – Evangel played host to the Memphis (Tenn.) Nighthawks on Oct. 23 in the Lightning’s last regular season game of the year. The last and only time the Lightning lost this season was to Franklin Christian Academy out of Franklin, Tenn., so the opportunity to play another team from out of state gave Evangel another chance to beat a team from out of state.

It became obvious almost immediately these two teams were in separate classes entirely. After Evangel quarterback Micah Murphy fumbled on the opening drive, which the Lightning defense got back on the very next play, this one was over soon after. Murphy took the first play from scrimmage after recovering the first Nighthawk fumble to the house on a 20-yard quarterback scramble, giving the Lightning an early 6-0 lead.

Memphis promptly turned the ball over on downs, and the first play of the new Evangel drive, Murphy found a streaking Brad Baggett for a 40-yard touchdown pass, Murphy’s two-point conversion run made it 14-0 early in the first. After a subsequent Memphis punt, it was déjà vu for the Lightning offense as Murphy once again found Baggett on the first play of the drive for a long touchdown pass, and the score was 20-0 in the first quarter.

The Nighthawks simply didn’t have the size of numbers to compete with Evangel on this night. The triple-option style offense Memphis tried to run was unsuccessful against the stout Lightning front three all night, particularly John Will Graham. On the other side of the ball, the Lightning offensive line did a great job all night allowing their talented backs like Murphy, Baggett and Hahn Hahn Lau room to run.

“Our first team, fundamentally they played great,” Evangel head coach Don Murphy said after the game. “Our line, offensive and defensive, did a great job.”

After Murphy returned a punt in the second quarter for a score and Baggett added his third touchdown later in the quarter, Evangel took a 36-0 lead at half and waltzed to an eventual 44-6 victory.

Evangel finished the regular season with a 9-1 record, and the Lightning are winners of their last nine in a row. Now they will turn their attention to Hope Christian in the first round of the ACSC playoffs next Friday.